.jo B. POLEVOI "Well, bear it, bear it—it's your affair. We'll see what this does." And he prescribed some new treatment. The door closed behind him, his footsteps died down in the corridor, but Meresyev lay in his bed with eyes closed. "My feet, my feet, my feet___" Was he to be without feet, to be a cripple on wooden stumps like old Arkasha, the ferryman in his native Kamyshin? To unfasten and leave his feet on the river-bank when he went bathing and crawl into the water like a monkey, as that old man did? These bitter reflections were aggravated by still another circumstance. On the very first day he arrived at the hospital he read the letters he had received from Kamy- shin. The small, triangle-folded letters from his mother were, as always, brief, half consisting of greetings from relatives and assurances that they were all well, thank God, and that he, Alyosha, need not worry about her, and half of pleadings that he should take care of himself, not to catch cold, not to get his feet wet, not to rush into danger and to beware of the German's cunning, about which she had heard enough from her neighbours. The contents of all these letters were the same, except that in one she informed him that she had asked a neighbour to pray for him in church, not that she was religious her- self, but in case there was somebody up above after all; in another she wrote that she was worried about his elder brothers who were fighting somewhere in the South and had not written for a long time; and in the last one she wrote that she had dreamed that during the spring flood on the Volga all her sons had returned to her; that they had come back from a successful fishing expedition together with their father—who was dead—and that she had baked for them their favourite pie—vyaziga pie*— and that the neighbours had interpreted the dream as meaning that one of her sons would certainly come home from the front. She therefore begged Alexei to ask his superior whether he would not let him go home, at least for a day. The blue envelopes, addressed in a large, round, school- girl's hand, contained letters from a girl who had been a * Pie stuffed with the spinal cord of a sturgeon.—Tr.